And the places in Texas I’ve had them (usually within a hundred miles of the Dallas area) are pretty serious about their pinto beans. I’ve always enjoyed some fresh diced onion with my pintos but I never expect them in a restaurant. That is, until I had them in Texas. Most places will serve them with a little bowl of diced onion. And a few places will give you some chowchow or other pickle relish to eat with them too. Man, DANG! That's alllll riggghhht.
I knew I wanted to make pinto beans this weekend so I thought I’d ask on the Facebook page for any tips my Texan friends might be able to give me on how to get those perfectly creamy, saucy, tender beans. All of the major concepts were in line with how I already cook pintos (or any dried bean) so I played close attention to the little details people were giving me and decided to try those out.
When I was done, I’m proud to say, I’d cooked the best batch of pinto beans I’d ever made! One thing I had working in my favor was my bag of Hurst’s dried pinto beans because they come with a little miracle packet of smoky seasoning that just takes the flavor over the top. I also managed to score some of the most beautiful ham hocks I’ve seen in forever so my beans had plenty of ham bits and layers of flavor too!
I didn’t (and rarely do) soak my beans overnight. I just threw everything in the crock pot and waited until they were mostly cooked before I seasoned them to keep the beans from getting tough (salt can make certain types of dried beans tough if you add it too soon). I also ladled out a few cups of beans and broth which I smashed into a silky smooth gravy with the back of a fork then added it back to the beans to make sure the sauce was thick and creamy.
If you can’t find Hurst’s Pinto Beans with Ham Flavor in your local grocery store, ask for them! My grocery store now carries all sorts of products they didn’t have before simply because I asked for them. Just ask the cashier who to talk to to request a product and s/he will point you in the right direction. My store has a list at the Customer Service desk where they notate products their customers' request.
1 20-oz. bag Hurst’s Pinto Beans with Ham Flavor Packet
6 cups chicken both
2 cups water
2-3 ham hocks (see notes)
1 large onion, quartered
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
Add beans WITHOUT seasoning packet, chicken broth and water to a slow cooker then stir to combine. Add ham hocks and onion pieces to cooker, cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Set seasoning packet aside.
Add seasoning packet and remaining spices to cooker, stir to combine, then cover and continue cooking for 2-4 hours or until beans are very tender.
Remove ham hocks to cool. Remove onion pieces then discard if desired.
Ladle out 2-3 cups of beans and broth then mash until smooth either with the back of a fork, a potato masher or whatever else gets ‘er done. Add mashed beans back to cooker and stir well. Turn off cooker and let beans rest, uncovered, for one hour. Don’t worry, they will still be plenty hot when it’s time to eat. Doing this just allows the broth to thicken up and things to get extra creamy.
Meanwhile, remove meat from ham hocks, shred or cut into small pieces then stir into beans.
Serve with fresh diced onions (and cornbread if you have it!) Here's my recipe for Skillet Cornbread 😉
This recipe makes approximately 12-14 servings.
- If you can’t find the Hurst’s Pinto Beans order them online or substitute with 2 cups dried pinto beans then use 1 ½ teaspoons salt plus 1 teaspoon liquid smoke in place of the seasoning packet.
- You can also use smoked turkey legs or wings or 1/2 pound fatback, side meat or salt pork (rinsed) in place of the ham hocks.
- You can certainly cook these on the stove too. Simmer for 2 hours instead of cooking on high in the crock pot for 4 hours then follow the recipe.